Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When God Says No

Our family have experienced disappointment in the last few days. A church family camp was cancelled due to bad weather. Our girls were anticipating seeing their friends and camping on a farm for weeks. Has God let our kids down?

We can make the mistake of believing that what we want is God's will. Jesus told His disciples to pray: "Your will be done", but do we really mean it? It's easy to treat God like a sideshow magician and expect Him to pull a rabbit out of His hat on request. We can forget that God sees around corners and knows that what we want is not always for the best.

Why did God say "no" to the camp this weekend? I don't know - but that doesn't mean He doesn't have a good reason. Sometimes when God says "no" we are left devastated. A father we knew in our church died several years ago in his mid-forties, leaving behind a wife and teenage children. Not for want of prayers.

When I was just four or five, a little girl in our church who was just a little older than me died of cancer. Again, not for want of prayers on her behalf. Why? Again, I don't know, but God sees around every bend in the road ahead and He knew and knows that He allowed these tragedies for the best.... in the end.

An atheist or agnostic might use these situations as proof that life is not planned or designed, but simply a huge cosmic mistake. However, we have also seen incredible personal examples of God saying "yes". My husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor when he was nine. He lives. When the wife of that father I mentioned was pregnant, the baby was diagnosed in the womb with a terminal condition. There was no mistaking on the ultrasound that her brain was the wrong shape. She lives.

What we want does not necessarily equal God's will. Sometimes, in fact, when we get what we want, it's not God's will. The huge wad of cash that your father's best friend's cousin prayed to Mary for and won at the races - that's not from God. Revenge on an ex-husband in the guise of the ex being denied all visitation rights for the children (despite being a caring father) - that's not from God.

Faith is accepting that sometimes God will say "no" and we may never know why. Faith is trusting in the midst of disaster and disappointment that the God who allowed the raging floodwaters to sweep through our home still loves us.

This can be an incredibly hard truth to come to terms with. We can be so sure that what we want should be God's will. How could the loss of a baby, a friend, a home, a business... be God's will for our lives? We don't have to know. God has made an astounding promise that can provide comfort in even the darkest of times (and comfort doesn't mean that the pain and grief just go away - it means that God holds our hand through and within the tempest and never lets go unless we tell Him to):
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

Now that is a promise we can hang our hats on.

You may be interested in reading What Happens After Death? or listening to the sermon Learning to Trust God.

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